Bill Belichick: Cam Newton didn't break Patriots team rules in COVID-19 protocol 'misunderstanding'

Mark Daniels
The Providence Journal

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Cam Newton’s back.

The Patriots veteran passed his fifth COVID-19 test of the week and will rejoin his teammates for the team’s 19th day of training camp. Bill Belichick revealed the news on Thursday morning. Newton has been away from the Pats for five days and missed three practices due to what what the team called a "misunderstanding" over COVID-19 rules.

As far as what this means for the Patriots' starting quarterback position, it all remains to be seen. Rookie Mac Jones took all the first-team reps this week and was phenomenal on Wednesday in a joint practice with the New York Giants.

“All the quarterbacks will all get work today,” Belichick said when asked how Jones’ increased reps will affect his practice reps on Thursday. When asked about Newton, Belichick simply replied “yes” when asked if the quarterback would be back.

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New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton throws during a joint practice with the Philadelphia Eagles at the Eagles NFL football training camp Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Jones was so good on Wednesday that there’s a strong case to be made that the Pats should start the rookie in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins. It’ll be interesting to see how Belichick handles Newton’s reps on Thursday and then again on Sunday in the Patriots preseason finale against the New York Giants.

Belichick said he doesn’t have a timetable for announcing a starting quarterback.

“I don’t have a timetable on that,” Belichick said. “I can’t tell you.”

 As far as Newton goes, Belichick was asked if the mistake that led to him missing time was the quarterback’s or the team’s. Belichick referenced the team-issued statement, but did say, “He didn’t go against team rules. It was a misunderstanding.”